7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Farmers’ Market Visit

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With the rise of sustainability and “locavore” movements, farmers’ markets are growing in popularity almost everywhere you look. Farmers’ markets are a great way to lay hands on some of the freshest fruits and vegetables while supporting farmers and their families right in your community.

Though you might not be aware of it, there’s probably a farmers’ market near you. A good place to start is the Local Harvest website (http://www.localharvest.org/) which can help you find a variety of markets in the U.S.

If you’ve never shopped a farmers’ market before, don’t be intimidated! Below are some helpful tips to make your experience fun, affordable, and convenient:

  1. Be sure to bring small cash bills (and change, if you have it). Typically ATM/Debit cards are not accepted. Payment is usually handled at farmers’ stands, not through a check-out line.
  1. Having your hands free is a big plus, so consider carrying a fanny pack for securely storing your money. (Prevents you from having to put your wallet down… a big reason wallets get lost!)
  1. Old strollers can make for handy shopping carts, plus they fold up nicely for transport to/from the market. Don’t forget any reusable bags you may have at home, too!
  1. Don’t haggle for small lots of fruits and veggies. Looking to buy a big box? Then you might suggest a deal.
  1. Some of the best tasting fruit may not look waxy and “supermarket fresh.” Don’t let this deter you. Often quality fruit from the farm is never shipped to supermarkets because it’s fragile. Handle gently, and don’t be afraid of minor cosmetic flaws.

6.If you want to ask farmers lots of questions, try to time your visit for very early when the market isn’t slammed.

  1. Remember that fresh means seasonal! Go with an open mind, not a “must have” list. Part of the pleasure is discovering what’s at its peak and getting creative with ingredients.

Have you been to a farmers’ market in Central Ohio? I’d love to hear what your favorites are!   Teresa@TeresaButler.com

Summer Home Seller’s Market is Heating Up

SOLD HOUSESpring kicks off the peak home hunting months of the year, but it isn’t until summer that things really get cooking. While there are pros and cons to buying and selling homes at various times throughout the year, summer can be, on average 25 to 30 percent more active than the annual average.

In summer you have a real mix of buyers and sellers… some serious and some not-so-serious. In the winter months, many buyers searching for homes would only do so if they absolutely had to. In the summer, there are often a larger number of buyers just toying with the idea. (Many of the serious buyers are eager to get settled before school starts in the fall.)

Selling homes in the summer requires its own brand of seasonal marketing and showing. Here are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind as you invite buyers to consider your home:

  1. Keep it cool, but don’t keep it dark. Your instinct may be to close the blinds and draw the drapes, but making your rooms feel dark and shut-in is counterproductive. Run the A/C and keep the air circulating. While your wallet may not appreciate the bump in your power bill, imagine how expensive it can be to keep the house on the market.
  1. Stage it inside and out. Have a pool deck? What about a garden patio? Make them as inviting as you would the living room or kitchen. Stage them appropriately and tell the story of what it might be like to live with such nice amenities. Think magazine photo shoot!
  1. Make the lawn sing. Curb appeal can be king in the summer months, especially when the neighbors’ lawns may be looking a little brown by comparison. Find bright flowers that can withstand the heat and provide a high-contrast to your green grass.
  1. Ride the sunset. With the longer daylight hours, you may have buyers who want to check out your home closer to dinner time, once the hottest hours of the afternoon have passed. Try and roll with the disruption… buyers prefer to see a home when the owners aren’t around.

Take advantage of the summer sales activity! I’d be happy to guide you on the buy or sell side of this white hot market: Teresa@TeresaButler.com or 614-565-8161

Is Summer Truly Housing’s Hottest Season?

Fotolia_32750180_XS-267x300The spring is traditionally real estate’s busiest time of year. But one real estate economist believes that this summer may trump the spring as the most robust time of buying or selling a home for 2016.

“From a buyer’s perspective you have more choice, but you’re also competing against far more buyers,” says Ken Johnson, a real estate broker as well as a professor of finance and associate dean at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business. “Sellers are also looking to sell over the summer, particularly if they have children and want to get a deal done before school starts again.”

The groundwork for a booming summer market has already been laid out. New-home sales in April posted their strongest month in more than eight years. Existing-home sales were up for the second consecutive month. What’s more, historically low mortgage rates may increase the demand for housing this summer.

“In some cities, especially in the Midwest, prices have plenty of room to go up,” says Johnson. “Real estate is still a really good buy in places like Cincinnati, Chicago and Cleveland.”

In some markets – like Dallas, Denver, and Houston – home prices are rising rapidly and some people are concerned prices may be overheating. However, Johnson doesn’t predict a downturn in prices any time soon, and he believes most markets will continue to perform strongly due to strong demand. That said, he does believe that those looking to buy into real estate as an investment may have a more difficult time finding a good deal.

“In markets like South Florida, Seattle and Portland, you may find you’re going to start to see lower probabilities that you’ll be able to successfully market your property,” Johnson says. “But while you may see extended marketing time and prices going flat, there’s no reason to believe there’s going to be a big dent in prices in these cities.”

Source: “Economist Says Summer May Be the Hottest Season to Buy and Sell,” RISMedia (June 5, 2016)

Fun ideas to make your summer entertaining a hit

20341488(BPT) – The sweet days of summer signal a long awaited transition for outdoor living. Combine food, family and friends with fresh ideas, and the possibilities for summer entertaining are endless.

“There is something so magical about taking a meal outside in the warm weather,” says designer Julie Robbins. “Sip tea from a porcelain cup in the late afternoon sun. Bring out vintage grill plates for a barbecue at the beach. Dine under the stars with lanterns and fireflies. Savor the season, because the memories will last far longer than the summer.”

Robbins leads design and entertaining seminars at Replacements, Ltd., the world’s largest retailer of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. She offers many ideas to make the summer memorable:

Don’t sweat the ants

Whether a big bash in the park or a quilt spread under your favorite backyard tree, picnics are hugely popular this summer.

“These moments are too precious for paper plates,” Robbins says. “When possible, opt for fine or casual dinnerware over disposable plates and cups. It’s better for the environment and elevates your event from everyday to unforgettable.”

Robbins suggests mixing glass plates in fun summer colors with your dinnerware to create seasonal flair. If you’re hesitant to use your dinnerware because you’re worried about breaking a plate or glass, use fast food drink caddies to pack your glasses and layer cloth napkins between plates. Place a newspaper at the bottom of your basket or tote for added cushion; Robbins says you can then wrap your dirty dishes in newspaper for the ride home. This will protect your basket or tote from food residue and preserve your table settings for your next event. Another great tip, use a glass out of your cabinet to transport and hold utensils. Robbins also suggests placing cupcake liners over glasses then punching a hole in the liner and inserting a drinking straw to keep ants and other insects from getting into beverages.

Terrific tapas

Planning a tapas-like gathering filled with finger foods, appetizers and snacks lends itself to your backyard or patio and is a great event for mingling.

“Canapé plates, dip bowls and cheese trays are perfect for this type of entertaining,” says Replacements’ Product Marketing Manager Keith Winkler. “These pieces are not only stackable, they’re small enough that your guests can easily carry them around.  Additionally, stemless wine glasses are perfect for outdoor gatherings because you set them down almost any place and they won’t tip over. You can find some really fun stemless wines made by Waterford and Riedel.  Glass beverage dispensers are also very popular for summer entertaining. With these, you can mix up lemonade, sangria or create your own signature drink that guests can serve themselves. Godinger offers some really trendy beverage dispensers, while Homer Laughlin is producing them in fun Fiesta colors.”

A hot design tip this summer, head to the salvage store and buy an inexpensive old door you can paint and prop on saw horses to use as an outdoor table. This not only creates a fun look, but it’s a great conversation starter at gatherings.

Fabulous al fresco

Regardless of whether you’re planning a casual cookout or a more formal alfresco meal, trends show more of us plan to entertain outdoors this summer. Robbins suggests using serving pieces that are both fun and functional.

“Alternative metal serving pieces are perfect for a picnic or patio because they’re nearly indestructible,” says Robbins. “These serving pieces can be warmed or chilled to help maintain the temperature of your foods. Manufacturers like Lenox, Arthur Court and Wilton Armetale offer seasonal shapes and pieces.”

As an added touch to summer gatherings, Robbins suggests finding new uses for your dinnerware, like using iced tea or ice cream glasses to create small floral arrangements or filling pitchers or compotes with flowers from your garden to use as centerpieces. For more summer entertaining tips and ideas, visit Replacements’ Facebook page.

 

From sea to shining sea: the most patriotic things to see and do on your summer vacation

(B21888511PT) – Summer isn’t just the season of no school and summer vacations. It’s also the most patriotic season in America, encompassing three iconic American holidays – Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. This summer, why not put a patriotic shine on your family’s summer vacation plans?

If you’re like most Americans, you probably consider yourself to be patriotic. But how much of America have you actually seen? Summer vacation is a great opportunity to visit the country’s many historic, cultural and natural sites, and share your sense of patriotism with your loved ones. Here are some tips, ideas and inspirations to help you give your family vacation patriotic flare this summer:

Travel the American way

The road trip is a great American tradition, and hitting the road in a recreation vehicle (RV) is an affordable, convenient way to see more of the country at your own pace. More than 15 million Americans will be on the road in 5.5 million RVs over the Memorial Day weekend alone, and more than 22 million Americans will go RVing this year, according to a survey by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association and Cvent.

Traveling in an RV can save you money on hotels, and afford your family with an exceptional experience of all the sights and scenery along the country’s highways. Numerous campgrounds, including ones at top National Park sites, put you close to the action in the comfort, convenience and independence of your own RV. Plus, traveling in an RV provides you with more time to spend with your family. You can even take the family pet along on your trip! To learn more about RVing, visit www.goRVing.com.

Visit iconic American parks

America’s National Parks System is unmatched in the world, with a size and diversity of sites that ensure most Americans live within a day’s drive or less of a National Park site. Every year, more than 275 million visitors pass through the 400 locations that are under the National Parks Service’s care. Protected sites include battlefields and other historically significant locations, heritage buildings and monuments, natural wonders, lake and sea shores, rivers, trails, recreation areas and national parks.

The National Parks Service website has a highly searchable database of every park and historic site in the system. You can look for a site by name, location, activity or topic of interest, such as battlefields or natural wonders. The site also offers a clickable map that lists all the National Park sites in every state. While iconic National Parks such as Yosemite or Gettysburg may be on your bucket list, don’t miss some of the lesser-known locations, as they are just as enriching. Many of the best-loved National Park sites also offer campgrounds with RV facilities.

Technology can help you see more

Knowing where you’re going and what you want to see can help you get the most out of your travel time, so be sure to use all the technology tools at your disposal to plan your trip. Mobile technology like mapping apps and GPS devices can help you find your way and keep you on track to your destination. Road-trip-planning websites like GoRVing.com and Roadtrippers provide plenty of advice and ideas to make your trip enjoyable and memorable.

Don’t forget to check out the websites for each attraction you plan to visit. Knowing the hours and costs of attractions you want to see can ensure you don’t miss a thing. Plus, these sites can also help you learn what’s in the area, so you can decide ahead of time where you want to eat (and make reservations at busy restaurants) or help you find a grocery store so you can enjoy a meal in the comfort of your RV’s kitchen.

Some site ideas to get you started

As you’re planning your patriotic summer trip, here are some top sites that embody the spirit of America:

* Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, Keystone, South Dakota – One of the best-recognized emblems of America, Mount Rushmore is carved into a granite mountain in South Dakota’s Black Hills. In addition to Mount Rushmore, the region has numerous other historic and natural sights, including caverns, wildlife and the Crazy Horse Memorial.

* Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – The Union’s victory at the Battle of Gettysburg changed the course of the Civil War. It was both the war’s bloodiest battle, claiming about 50,000 lives, and inspired Abraham Lincoln’s famed Gettysburg Address.

* Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone is home to most of the world’s geysers, including the most famous one: Old Faithful. Wildlife and beautiful scenery abound, ensuring there’s much more to see and do in this national park that spans three states – Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

* Pacific Coast Highway – State Route 1 travels most of the length of California’s Pacific coast, affording travelers unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean and access to a plethora of charming seaside towns along the state’s coast.

Selling this summer? 6 upgrades to secure a speedy sale

(BPT) – When the weather warms up, so does the real estate market. Spring and summer are traditionally the seasons when both home buyers and sellers are most active across the country. If you’ll be putting your home on the market this year, simple, cost-effective upgrades can help ensure a speedy sale at a good price.

“In the world of real estate, it’s often necessary for sellers to spend a little on upgrades in order to achieve a satisfying home sale,” says Bethany Richmond, communications director for the Carpet & Rug Institute. “Fortunately, some of the most impressive upgrades, such as new carpeting, are also affordable. Such upgrades ensure that you don’t have to spend a lot to achieve a better selling price.”

Here are six easy-to-do upgrades that are both cost-effective and high-impact:

1. Replace carpet

It’s easy to see the impact of worn or dated carpeting. “If you don’t like looking at it, buyers won’t either,” Richmond says. “Replacing old or damaged carpet delivers impressive appeal for a modest investment.”

New carpet is one upgrade that has a high ratio of value to cost. It substantially increases perceived value for homebuyers without requiring home sellers to spend a bundle. “Even less expensive carpet styles will freshen the look of a room and prepare it for sale,” Richmond notes. “You can get a lot more quality for just a little more money, she says, “and if you take advantage of spring carpet sales, installing new carpeting can cost even less.”

2. Clean flooring

If your carpet is still in great shape, then simply having it professionally cleaned can make it look even better. A deep professional cleaning helps lift tough soils and provides a cleaner, fresher look to rooms. You can find an expert in your area by visiting www.carpet-rug.org. CRI experts can even provide insight into how to remove difficult stains.

Not only is carpet a good value, it’s healthy, too. People with allergies or other sensitivities are installing carpet to improve indoor air quality. Recent studies support previous findings that carpet, when effectively cleaned, traps allergens and other particles, resulting in less dust, dander and airborne contaminants escaping into the air. To learn more about selecting and maintaining carpet, as well as how carpet is a good choice for people with allergies, visit the home page of the Carpet & Rug Institute at www.carpet-rug.org .

Don’t forget to clean all other flooring, including hardwood, laminates and tile. Buyers will appreciate a sparkling clean appearance throughout the house.

3. Repaint in neutral shades

Fresh paint is another smart and cost-effective upgrade for sellers. Buyers expect it, yet many sellers hesitate to repaint. Perhaps they like the existing colors or balk at the cost of professional painting services. Yet repainting in neutral colors makes a room look fresher and brighter, and gives buyers a visual “blank slate” against which to imagine their own decor.  Do the work yourself and you can reduce the cost of repainting even further.

4. Update or upgrade lighting

You may find that disco-ball style globe light charming in your kitchen, but the average buyer doesn’t want dated or unusual lighting. Replacing dated or worn fixtures, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, is a cost-effective way to give a room a more up-to-date, contemporary look. If you already have newer fixtures, consider replacing incandescent bulbs with high-efficiency options such as CFLs or LEDs. Although they’re a bit more expensive to purchase, these bulbs last years longer – a selling point for buyers who will reap the value of not having to replace bulbs any time in the near future.

5. Install new faucets

A high-end faucet can completely change the look and usability of a kitchen or bathroom. In terms of cost versus value, an upgraded faucet, such as pull-out or even touch-free styles, can dramatically increase perceived value for a relatively modest investment. An upgraded faucet is a thoughtful touch that will set your home apart in buyers’ minds.

6. Replace hardware throughout the home

You may have already thought of upgrading kitchen cabinet knobs and drawer pulls, but have you also upgraded hardware in your bathroom or on the front door? These seemingly small items have a major impact on the overall visual effect of a home. In desirable rooms such as kitchens and baths, designer hardware can elevate the entire look of the room. And upgraded door hardware will ensure buyers have a positive first impression from the moment they enter your home.

Five Simple Summer Spruce Ups for Outdoors

(ARA) – Summer is finally here and you plan to spend every spare minute wearing a permanent indentation in the cushion of the patio chaise. But before you kick back and enjoy the lazy days of summer, you know you need to do something to spruce up the outside of your home.

First decide how much time and money you want to invest. Some outdoor improvements offer big bang for not much buck; others may cost more but can still be accomplished with a relatively modest investment of time. Here are five simple summer spruce ups that can add up to greater outdoor enjoyment without emptying your wallet.
1. Get fresh with your patio or deck. If your deck is looking drab and your patio pallid, it may be time for a power wash and a coat of paint or stain. Simply removing winter dirt and debris will make your outdoor living space look newer and more appealing. Putting a new finish on your existing deck or adding color to your patio with a concrete stain can make your environment feel fresh and updated.
2. Water, water everywhere … Adding a water feature is a great way to introduce motion and emotion to your outdoor environment. Want to add some fun to an outdoor party? Consider a mirthful fountain, the kind you can buy at many home improvement stores that you simply add water to and plug in. For a more peaceful effect, place a shallow birdbath in your back yard. For the ambitious (and adventurous), do-it-yourself fish pond, waterfall and even streambed kits are available online and from many home improvement stores.
3. Mount a mural. A flat exterior wall, architectural niche or sliding glass door – you can place a mural on virtually any smooth outdoor surface. Not only will the decoration spice up your outdoor décor, a mural can act as a conversation piece for al fresco gatherings and create continuity between your interior and exterior design. Wallpaper mural leader Environmental Graphics offers a variety of wallpaper murals, many of which are durable for outdoor use, at www.muralsyourway.com. The murals, which range in theme from city skylines to tropical beaches and underwater scenes, are as easy to install as wallpaper. Sizes can be customized and the company provides detailed instructions on how to install the murals in virtually any setting.
4. Rock on. When it comes to outdoor design, rock may be considered the ultimate homage to Mother Earth. Landscapers use rock to create decorative effects. On the practical side, adding stone or rock to certain areas can aid in drainage. Also, it’s a great way to avoid mowing a troublesome spot in the lawn. If you’re feeling ambitious, try creating your own rock garden. If your aspirations and needs are a bit more modest, consider adding some colorful stone touches – such as a glass fishbowl filled with polished river stones – around your patio or deck.
5. Refurbish outdoor furniture. Bright, fresh cushions and finishes on patio furniture elevate the impact of your outdoor décor. If a new patio set isn’t in the budget right now, it’s easy to breathe new life into an old set. Clean cushions with a good quality upholstery cleaner, or, if they’re stained and worn beyond hope, visit your local home goods store to pick up some replacements. Refresh finishes with a coat of spray paint. Many manufacturers now offer paints that will mimic finishes popular in outdoor furnishings today.
A few simple spruce ups can go a long way towards improving the appearance – and your enjoyment – of your outdoor living environment. And get you into that chaise lounge that much sooner.
Courtesy of ARAcontent

How to Prepare Your Outdoor Living Space for Summer

(ARA) – Memorial Day and Labor Day are traditionally viewed as the unofficial beginning and end of summer. Between holidays, life shifts outdoors as many homeowners make the most of the season. To enjoy as much time outside as possible, homeowners are increasingly taking advantage of their decks and patios to create true outdoor living spaces.

Now more than ever, homeowners view their outdoor living areas as extensions of the home rather than as separate, rarely-used spaces. As the outdoor living trend continues to grow, homeowners are expanding the look and feel of their home’s interior, including the design, furnishings and entertainment features, outside.

The evolving outdoor living trend also enables homeowners to enhance one of the most valuable investments they have — their homes. By creating yard space, and adding or upgrading deck and patio spaces, many are seeing a return on their remodeling and renovation investments.

No matter how you choose to embrace the outdoor living lifestyle, there are a few things you can do to prepare for and make the most of your summer. For those who already have an outdoor living space, like a deck, it’s time to prepare for the season.

Beyond cleaning, organizing and sprucing up, you should also evaluate your deck or patio’s overall condition and determine whether or not you need a replacement — or even an upgrade. A few things to consider are: the condition of the current material, the size of your space and if it meets your needs, the amount of maintenance your current deck or patio requires and whether or not you have the time it takes. If you decide that you need a new deck or an upgrade, start planning now.

If you’re already planning to build a new deck, first decide what material you prefer — composite decking, wood or other materials. Many homeowners are opting for composite decks because high-quality composites offer the look of real wood, but don’t require a lot of maintenance. Because it doesn’t require sanding, painting or staining, composite decking enables homeowners to spend more time actually enjoying their decks instead of caring for them. In fact, according to a recent consumer survey conducted by national research firm Synovate for TAMKO Building Products, four out of five homeowners prefer decking materials that: don’t need to be painted, stained or sanded; don’t cause splinters; have a warranty of 25 years or more and are slip-resistant. Composite decking materials, like EverGrain and Elements from TAMKO, have all of these features as well as a true-to-life grain. For additional information about composite decking materials, a deck building checklist and more decking ideas, visit www.evergrain.com.

If you’re starting from scratch to prepare your outdoor living space, begin by determining desired uses for the space. For example, do you want it to be functional for entertaining often or more for relaxation? Once you determine desired uses, you can begin to create a space that suits your lifestyle. For ideas, check out magazines, home and garden TV shows, home décor catalogues and friends’ projects. Keep an ideas folder of designs, fabrics and looks that you like and then take your time finding just the right combination for your outdoor living space.

So you can enjoy your outdoor living space as much as possible this summer, make sure your chosen materials and features suit your lifestyle and tastes. And as with many things, a little up-front planning and care will ensure that your outdoor living space will be an increasingly important and enjoyable part of your home for many years.

Courtesy of ARAcontent